from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Something that is built, as for human habitation; a structure.
  • n. The act, process, art, or occupation of constructing.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The act or process of building.
  • n. A closed structure with walls and a roof.
  • v. Present participle of build.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of constructing, erecting, or establishing.
  • n. The art of constructing edifices, or the practice of civil architecture.
  • n. That which is built; a fabric or edifice constructed, as a house, a church, etc.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The act of constructing, erecting, or establishing.
  • n. A fabric built or constructed; a structure; an edifice; as commonly understood, a house for residence, business, or public use, or for shelter of animals or storage of goods.
  • n. A flock or number: said of rooks.
  • n. In mining, a wall or pillar built of stone to support the roof in long-wall mining; a pack-wall.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the act of constructing something
  • n. a structure that has a roof and walls and stands more or less permanently in one place
  • n. the occupants of a building
  • n. the commercial activity involved in repairing old structures or constructing new ones


Middle English (Wiktionary)
See build (Wiktionary)



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  • Damp rotten houses, many to let, many yet building, many half-built and mouldering away—
    The Old Curiosity Shop, ch. 15

    This illustrates the old passive sense of the gerund-participle. Around 1800 a new construction came into use, and instead of saying the house was building, people now said it was being built. During the nineteenth century some prescriptivists deprecated this; but for some reason it prevailed without qualm, and there are no longer any superstitions about it.

    Earlier still the construction was 'The house is a building', with 'a' a reduced form of the preposition 'on': we would now write this as 'a-building', if only to distance it from the other reading ('a' a determinative and 'building' a noun).

    August 7, 2008